This book more than the first four has changed more than any of the others re-reading it this time. I’m not sure what it is that clicked for me, but it wasn’t as much of a slog and I wasn’t as annoyed with Harry as I was every other time I read this book. I did find that the books have merged more and more into one continuous story now and as I re-read them it jogs my memory back into place but everything after the book I’m reading is a bit mixed up.
For some reason it took just until this re-read that I realized that a good portion of why Harry is so angry is not just his teenage angst, but also probably Voldemort’s anger coming through Harry. I mean Harry thwarted Voldermort’s plans of returning completely in secret and there wasn’t a lot going right for Voldemort in the four years prior to this. So Harry’s teenage angst plus Voldemort’s anger equals whiny little git.
The other thing that hit me in this book was how truly evil Delores Umbridge is and how practical, but not necessarily loving Aunt Petunia is.
“…talking calmly of Lord Voldemort to Uncle Vernon. The arrival of the dementors in Little Whinging seemed to have caused a breach in the great, invisible wall that divided the relentlessly non-magical world of Privet Drive and the world beyond. Harry’s two lives had somehow become fused and everything had been turned upside down: The Dursleys were asking for details about the magical world and Mrs. Figg knew Albus Dumbledore; dementors were soaring around Little Whinging and he might never go back to Hogwarts. Harry’s head throbbed more painfully.” (35)
Aunt Petunia may not love Harry Potter, but she loved her sister Lily and is willing to deal with a minor inconvenience to protect Harry until he’s of age. It only took one reminder from Dumbledore for Petunia to overrule Uncle Vernon in allowing Harry to stay, keeping the charm active protecting Harry just a bit longer. I guess as I get older I can sympathize with Petunia on a minimal level for having lost her sister, but her actual treatment of Harry is just so horrible, it’s hard to even do that much.
Now for Umbridge, what can I actually say? I had to check this time to see what house she was in, Slytherin, which was no surprise at all (Pottermore links). Rowling writes further about Umbridge and her strictness of rules and how that lead her to easily fall in with the Death Eaters and Voldemort. If I’m completely honest, I’m glad I know my limitations or I could end up like Umbridge in the pursuit of accuracy and rule following.
I read a blog post recently, A Prosecutor’s Discretion, where he talks about all the laws on the books in the U.S. and I’m like YES let’s enforce them ALL, but then I’m also like I know that’s not a great idea because we’d all go crazy. Umbridge does this and takes it too far and she’s willing to break laws in order to better pursue other laws. I actually had forgotten that she was the one who ordered one of the primary plot points of the book and I immediately was like OMG yes I forgot about that!
And as usual there were things that made me laugh and or question WTF is going on with the Wizarding World. In this first one, why in the world do they pay on a daily basis for their newspaper. It just seems non-sensical. Why wouldn’t they just pay a subscription fee for a month or a quarter or a year? I wouldn’t get the paper just because of this inconvenience (on top of how it treats Harry – I forgot to rant about journalistic integrity).
“But she broke off; the morning post was arriving and, as usual, the Daily Prophet was soaring toward her in the beak of a screech owl, which landed perilously close to the sugar bowl and held out a leg; Hermione pushed a Knut into its leather pouch, took the newspaper, and scanned the front page critically as the owl took off again.” (265)
This one just made me laugh and whoop out loud. At some point in undergrad before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released I read a very convincing fan-fiction version of book six and this for some reason I assumed was in it, but it’s not it’s actually in this book! I can totally see some old prudish wizards and witches coming up with this sort of policing policy.
“He was on the sixth stair when it happened. There was a loud, wailing, klaxonlike sound and the steps melted together to make a long, smooth stone slide. There was a brief moment when Ron tried to keep running, arms working madly like windmills, then he toppled over backward and shot down the newly created slide, coming to rest on his back at Harry’s feet.” (326)
There’s so much more I could talk about but this post is already rambling on pretty long, but I will say that the treatment of House Elves carries over into this book and into the last two. This quote got me particularly this time and will stick with me through the end of the series:
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike…” (767)
Recommendation: READ IT. It’s gotten less obnoxious the older I’ve got which is a little terrifying and yet satisfying in some sort of weird old age thing. I’m actually looking
Opening Line: “The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.”
Closing Line: Instead he smiled, raised a hand in farewell, turned around, and led the way out of the station toward the sunlit street, with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley hurrying along in his wake.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)
Additional Quotes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
“In fact, he was so angry at them that he had thrown both their birthday presents of Honeydukes chocolates away unopened, though he had regretted this after eating the wilting salad Aunt Petunia had provided for dinner that night.” (7)
“A muscle was twitching in Dudley’s jaw. It gave Harry enormous satisfaction to know how furious he was making Dudley; he felt as though he was siphoning off his own frustration into his cousin, the only outlet he had.” (12)
“Aunt Petunia said nothing. Dudley was staring stupidly at his mother, his mouth hanging open. The silence spiraled horribly. Harry was watching his aunt, utterly bewildered, his head throbbing fit to burst.” (38)
“The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.” (54)
“‘Deep down, Fudge knows Dumbledore’s much cleverer than he is, a much more powerful wizard, and in the early days of his Ministry he was forever asking Dumbledore for help and advice,’ said Lupin. ‘But it seems that he’s become fond of power now, and much more confident. He loves being Minister of Magic, and he’s managed to convince himself that he’s the clever one and Dumbledore’s simply stirring up trouble for the sake of it.'” (86)
“He looked up into the handsome wizard’s face, but up close, Harry thought he looked rather weak and foolish. The witch was wearing a vapid smile like a beauty contestant, and from what Harry knew of goblins and centaurs, they were most unlikely to be caught staring this soppily at humans of any description. Only the house-elf’s attitude of creeping servility looked convincing. With a grin at the thought of what Hermione would say if she could see the statue of the elf, Harry turned his money bag upside down and emptied not just ten Galleons, but the whole contents into the pool at the statues’ feet.” (143)
“The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of vital importance. The rare gifts with which you were born may come to nothing if not nurtured and honed by careful instruction. The ancient skills unique to the Wizarding community must be passed down through the generations lest we lose them forever. The treasure trove of magical knowledge amassed by our ancestors must be guarded, replenished, and polished by those who have been called to the noble profession of teaching.” (196)
“Harry opened his mouth, closed it again, and nodded. He was not really sure why he was not telling Ron and Hermione exactly what was happening in Umbridge’s room: He only knew that he did not want to see their looks of horror; that would make the whole thing seem worse and therefore more difficult to face. He also felt dimly that this was between himself and Umbridge, a private battle of wills, and he was not going to give her the satisfaction of hearing that he had complained about it.” (249)
“The barman sidled toward them out of a back room. He was a grumpy-looking old man with a great deal of long gray hair and beard. He was tall and thin and looked vaguely familiar to Harry.” (312)
“‘Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have,’ said Hermione nastily, picking up her quill again.” (425)
“‘You . . . This isn’t a criticism, Harry! But you do . . . sort of . . . I mean — don’t you think you’ve got a bit of a — a — saving-people-thing?’she said. He glared at her. ‘And what’s that supposed to mean, a ‘saving-people-thing’?'” (676)
“It was his fault Sirius had died; it was all his fault. If he, Harry, had not been stupid enough to fall for Voldemort’s trick, if he had not been so convinced that what he had seen in his dream was real, if he had only opened his mind to the possibility that Voldemort was, as Hermione had said, banking on Harry’s love of playing the hero…” (755)
“Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young…and I seem to have forgotten lately…” (761)